Nov. 23rd, 2011

"LaTanya?" Loomy frowned, hands on aproned hips. Where was that girl? She was always disappearing. Loomy stuck her head in LaTanya's bedroom but she wasn't there.

"LaTanya!" shouted Loomy again, irritated. It wasn't as if the apartment was large enough for a body not to hear her mama when she calls.

"I'm out here, mama," LaTanya called back. A sliding door opened onto the fire escape from LaTanya's bedroom; it was partway open. Loomy looked down at her daughter sitting cross-legged on the wrought-iron platform. She had a shoebox in her lap, full of LaTanya's junky things, and a cluster of helium balloons was tied up to the railing.

"Thought I told you not to hang around out here," grumbled Loomy. "This thing's rickety and you could fall to your death."

"I'm sorry, mama," said LaTanya. "But it's nice and cool out here."

It was, too. Loomy sniffed and brandished a piece of paper. "Found this in your book-bag," she said. "You have something due Friday, don't you?"

"Yes, mama," said LaTanya, hanging her head. "I have to turn in my Project Statement for Science Fair."

"Have you done it yet?"

"No, mama," said LaTanya ruefully. "I don't have any ideas for a good science project."

"You better think of one," Loomy advised her daughter.

"But it's hard," complained LaTanya. "The project statement has to be in the form of a Problem Statement, and then a Hypothesis, and a proposal to test your hypothesis. I can't think of any problems like that."

"I don't even know what all that means," said Loomy. "But you better get it in or you'll get a zero."

"Yes, mama," said LaTanya, subdued.

Loomy pursed her lips at her daughter. Sometimes LaTanya was so scatterbrained. "Well, come in and wash up," she said. "Dinner in five." She returned to the kitchen.

LaTanya reached into her shoebox and pulled out the carbolyzer. It was complete, finally; she had made it from a broken radio and an electric shaver, but she had needed a source of sulfuric acid and she had only just found an old car battery to tap it from.

LaTanya tied it to four balloons and released it. The carbolyzer would take in carbon monoxide and nitrous oxides and convert them to ozone that would be spewed out into the upper atmosphere. She had five others operating already, simultaneously cleaning up pollution and patching the ozone layer.

LaTanya brought her shoebox back inside and slid it under her bed. She sat on her covers and looked out the sliding window. Project Statement, Project Statement. Why did science have to be so hard?

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